By Wairimū Masiga
in this blog Wairimū, a Masters Psychology student, describes the first winter she faced in Limerick, and gives advice on how to tackle the ways that winter brings you down.
As we enter deeper into the spring season, I can’t help but do a little dance. That’s right people, I survived the Irish winter! As a previous resident of Canada, I know what harsh winter weather can be like. Coming from tropical Kenya, I was unprepared for my first winter. Sure, it gets cold in Nairobi, but it doesn’t burrow into your bones or make you question your own existence. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting to return to another temperate country but I wanted the opportunity to study at University of Limerick.
The Irish winter moderate but there are a few similarities: shorter days mean fewer opportunities to see the sun, colder nights mean you learn how to layer sweaters on sweaters and jackets on other jackets like you’re a hoarder at a Black Friday sale. Ask any Irish person you meet and be prepared to learn about the five thousand different kinds of rain they get in the winter. Well, that’s before you meet the wind.
I’ve wised up over the years. You must if you want to keep your fingers, toes and stay positive. This is my take on survival from the perspective of an MA Psychology student, so I hope it helps you.
Keep a routine.
Winter hits people differently. For me, with fewer hours of the sun than I’m used to, I feel less motivated, sadder, and it’s typically harder to concentrate. This season even affects the way your body produces melatonin, meaning that you’re sleepier most of the time – and I’m typically sleepy all the time. Although I’m of the feeling that biphasic sleep cycles should be revisited as a viable social option, school demands moving more than just a finger or two. The best way to keep things regular is by developing a routine. Wake up, go to bed, and do your daily tasks at the same time each day. Developing this rhythm keeps you going even when you’re feeling lazy, and you’ll waste less energy and time trying to make these minute decisions.
Get moving and slow down.
There’s nothing I detest more than moving my body -okay, that’s not true. I love a good, productive trip to the kitchen – but generally I would like to couch-potato all day and sleep all night. But I’ve become the avid yogi with at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, I’m less stressed and usually in a stellar mood. At the UL, there are paths all about for walking and running if you’re so inclined. Living in campus housing gives you access to a gym membership. There’s lots to try including mountain climbing, swimming, and fitness classes. Trust me, you won’t miss the big UL SPORT sign.
As equally valuable, rest. Take your leisure time seriously. I relieve my stress by reading fiction (Check out the Glucksman Library Popular Reading Room!).
Get some sunshine!
With rain comes dark clouds, so I take all the light I can get. The second I’m out of bed, I’m rolling my curtains open and trying to commune with the birds – I still have live-action Disney princess dreams. Get outside. Expose yourself to the sun because that vitamin D raises your melatonin and improves your mood.
Social support is crucial. Remember Covid-19 pandemic at its height? Enough said. Join a society or a club (there’s lots!). As part of your daily routine, you could even schedule your quality time with your friends and loved ones. This may sound odd but as an introvert, I sometimes forget that human contact is essential. Try to keep a strong social network no matter how big or small.
Most importantly, remember that winter doesn’t last forever, so, keep calm and keep warm!